Oh so sweet: Treat yourself to a little honey in your baked goods


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Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013, 9:21 am
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By Erin Alderson
Local, fresh honey always fascinates me. I love speaking with the bee keeper about the flavors of the season. The taste of the flowers comes in to play with each delicious flavor. When bees are left to roam, each batch of honey will taste just a touch differently and honey colors will vary depending on the season.

It's a sweet treat with a rich history: For thousands of years before sugar cane was imported to Europe from Asia, honey was the only sweetener available to people living in Europe and North Africa. As a result, it was highly prized. Depictions of gathering honey in the wild can be found among ancient cave paintings in Spain, and references to honey are found in sacred Hebrew, Hindu and Egyptian texts.

The individual histories of any given jar of honey are no less fascinating. A colony of bees can travel an area of 40 square miles in their hunt for nectar, with each individual returning to the hive carrying up to 70 milligrams of nectar to be converted into honey. Even though that is a miniscule amount, compared to the bees' body weight, it's the equivalent of a 150-pound person ingesting 127 pounds of liquid. When the bees finish converting the nectar for storage (a process that involves fanning it with their wings to "dry" it), the resulting honey is naturally antimicrobial and energy dense.

As part of a move to a diet based more on whole, less-processed foods, I weeded out conventional sugars and began replacing those with maple syrup and honey in what I eat. When substituted correctly, honey makes a great addition to cakes, muffins and even scones. I find that honey is slightly sweeter than sugar. For that reason, I often substitute 3/4 cup of honey for 1 cup regular sugar and, at the same time, for each 3/4 cup of honey I use I also reduce any liquid in a recipe (milk or water, for example) by 1/4 cup.

Substituting honey in baked goods, such as muffins and cakes, makes two changes: flavor and texture. The texture of the baked good often ends up denser and a bit more moist compared to the recipe made with granulated sugar. The honey also adds a bit of a floral note to the flavor that works particularly well when paired with baked goods containing fruit (like banana muffins).

Of course, if baking math isn't your thing, not to worry. Honey also makes a great addition simply drizzled over desserts such as berry crepes or a bit of plain yogurt. And you always can stir it into beverages like tea to add a touch of sweetness. If you are looking for a local honey to try, be sure to check out the farmers' market or your local health food store.

Honey banana muffins
1 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup pecan pieces, plus extra for topping
2 ripe bananas (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup walnut oil
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease or add liners to a muffin pan. In a large bowl, stir together pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and pecan pieces. In a separate bowl, mash bananas into a puree; whisk in honey, oil and eggs.
Combine wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Scoop batter into muffin pan, filling each muffin 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle with pecan pieces.
Bake until muffins are golden brown and spring back when touched, 15-18 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove from muffin pan. Makes 12 muffins.

Erin Alderson is a regular Radish contributor. Find more of her recipes and musings at naturallyella.com.

















 



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  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




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